DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), first synthesized in 1874 by Austrian chemist Othmar Zeidler, was discovered to be a formidable insecticide only in 1939 by Swiss Chemist Paul Müller, who won the 1948 Nobel Prize in Medicine for it. Due to its carcinogenic features and its devastating effects on birds’ ability to reproduce, it was later banned.

In Germany, DDT was produced during the Second World War under license of the Swiss chemical company Geigy (later Ciba-Geigy; see Weindling 2000, p. 380), with the trade name Lauseto (for Läusetod = “lice death”). The Auschwitz Camp received DDT starting in 1944: 9 metric tons in April, 15 tons in August, and 2 tons in October (Setkiewicz 2011b, p. 72). DDT, together with the new microwave delousing devices, allowed the Auschwitz camp authorities to bring the typhus epidemic in Auschwitz finally under control. These new technologies also made Zyklon B obsolete; hence, Zyklon B deliveries to Auschwitz declined significantly during the summer of 1944.

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